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Focus on Customer Value will Improve Sales Effectiveness and Performance

Posted by Robert Beckerman
Robert Beckerman
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sales-pipeline-management Are you always struggling to hit your sales targets? Is there a way to get the team to work smarter and more effectively? Changing focus from sales activity to sales effectiveness is clearly a winning strategy to increase sales performance.

A Typical Scenario: Not meeting your sale plan

You have several sales people who are assigned leads that come from various channels — advertising, events, various offers on your website, referrals from current clients, etc. Your reps are able to connect with some of them by phone. In some cases they are able to book meetings and a proportion of those become opportunities. As opportunities are developed the reps record their activity as well as any relevant notes. They also estimate the value of the sale and the probability of closing. Captured in their notes are what the reps have understood to be the needs and preferences of the prospect as well as competitive information, budget, decision factors and timing. Overall your pipeline is estimated to close at 60%. You rely on these forecasts for planning and investment decisions. You find that you are not making your targets and that your real close rate is closer to 40%. You push your team to make more calls and book more meetings. Your performance ratios do not change even though there is a short-term lift in activity. 

Change focus from sales activity to sales effectiveness 

It is likely that you currently review sales activity by tracking the number of calls, meetings, proposals, and sales completed for your team. Or perhaps you track opportunity development -- the stages of the pipeline which usually have expected close rates for each stage that are used for forecasting and review. With this approach you are soley focused on activity -- more calls to get more meetings -- when you should be focused on improving the effectiveness and quality of those calls and meetings. This is a change in focus to managing and improving sales effectiveness.

You won't improve sales effectiveness by asking your sales reps to convert more meetings to proposals or to close more quotes because -- right now -- your sales rep is the one that decides when to move a prospect from one stage to another. Don’t rely on the sales rep’s best guess. The fundamental issue is that there are no standards or metrics for sales effectiveness or pipeline management – here is how to change this.

Easy Changes for Better Sales Outcomes

The first step is to define the unique value that you want to deliver as specific tasks that your sales reps will execute at each stage of the pipeline. You should also outline the specific customer insights to uncovered at each stage. If certain insights are not uncovered, then your sales rep is probably not ready to take the prospect to the next stage. This process provides standardized data for discovery and stage management that can be measured and scored -- the higher the score, the more likely the probability of close. So now, instead of using an arbitrary stage close ratio, or the sales rep’s best guess, we are aggregating insight scores for a close ratio that becomes a very accurate forecast for sales success.

Here are sales performance increases that occurred with a recent client
  • Call completion went from 40% to 50%
  • Call conversion to meeting went from 35% to 48%
  • Meetings conversion to opportunity went from 45% to 52%
  • Opportunity conversion to proposal went from 60% to 68%
  • Proposal close rate went from 65% to 75%

You will now be able to see which reps are good at each of the key sales pipeline activities and, with their input, you will be able to develop the best responses to all the key insights. You will then be able to provide these to all the reps. Work with your reps weekly to see where they are missing key information and help them develop techniques to complete the discovery.

Within 30 days you will see performance shifting in all of your KPIs. The impact is dramatic. The team is focused and they know how to execute.


Topics: Sales Effectiveness, Pipeline Management, Sales Process & Performance